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Brain Dysfunction in Criminal Behavior

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Brain Dysfunction in Criminal Behavior Patrick G. Richard CRJ308: Psychology of Criminal Behavior Professor David Ojo July 20, 2018 Plenty of debates have been had as to the origin of what causes criminal behavior; some individuals consider the belief that criminal behavior is hereditary, and others theorize that criminal/deviant behavior is learned during childhood due to a lack of parental control or overbearing and abusive parents. Although these theories may associate with criminal behavior, there is not a lot of scientific evidence to support those theories or beliefs. To say that a specific action or event causes an individual to develop criminal behavior can be considered an absurd notion, but the reality is if enough of these actions cause symptoms in an individual that may already be considered as dramatic or antisocial, criminal behavior is not far around that corner. There are numerous variables that influence the development of criminal behavior; however, a basis is still up for debate. Advents in brain research and the capacity to monitor brain activity have shed new light on the role of brain development and abnormalities, and how criminal behavior is influenced by these developments.

Due to technology becoming so much better, scientists may now have the capability to effectively address the question of whether criminal behavior is hereditary in individuals or if it is a learned behavioral pattern. The film The Brain and Violence: Secrets of Your Mind, provided several examples of individuals who have committed violent crimes, such as the Pittsburgh Steeler’s Mike Webster and more specifically, Chris Benoit, who was a wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation before changing to WWE. After doctors investigated the brain of Chris Benoit, they concluded that he had brain damage from recurring and frequent blows to the head that diminished essential neurons, which ultimately led him to commit murder. Along with Mike Webster and Chris Benoit, scans of the violent offenders were also conducted and revealed changes or alterations in the frontal lobe.

The frontal lobe is the area of the brain which encompasses higher-order cognitive functions. These higher-order cognitive functions govern the emotional stimuli which stem from the limbic system (DeLisi, 2013). Scientists suppose that these frontal lobe dysfunctions harmfully impact an individual’s aptitude to think rationally and reasonably. Scientists believe TBI promotes criminal behavior and the connection also stems back to the frontal lobe of the brain because it is this part of the brain that controls motor skills such as judgment, impulse control, problem-solving, and social behavior; if TBI is present, then so is cognitive impairment due to the damage of the frontal lobe and it can completely change an individual’s thought process. “In a 1997 PET scan study of murderers, for example, Dr. Raine and his colleagues found abnormalities in the functioning of the prefrontal cortex compared with a group of control subjects. And Dr. Antonio Damasio, chairman of neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, and his colleagues have demonstrated that patients with injuries to certain parts of the frontal lobe often begin to exhibit antisocial behavior, becoming irresponsible, untrustworthy and inappropriate in social situations.” Every brain structured is composed of different irregularities and these anomalies can cause people to do strange and out of the ordinary things; another trigger for these irregularities is when a person gets brain cancer due to the lesions the disease causes. Genetics has the potential to play a role in an individual becoming a serial killer or a psychopath.

One gene that has been implicated – MAO-A, “produces an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, which affects mood and can have a calming effect. Sometimes called the “warrior gene,” it’s been theorized that the calming effects of serotonin may not always be effective in people born with a variant of the gene (Kirkey, 2012).” Researchers and scientists have conversed as to whether or not criminal behavior is organic, meaning inherited from a family member; I do not believe that criminal behavior can be inherited or passed down, but studies have been done that shows individuals who have siblings that are or were diagnosed with disorders have a high probability of developing some form of the disorder. In my family, there are many members that committed crimes, sold drugs, and developed many criminal behaviors and patterns; though that has been passed down through a few generations, I am a firm believer and proof that not everyone has to ride in the same car though you are traveling on the same road. The same also goes for psychopaths or serial killers that commit sexual crimes and impregnate women; the child that is born, if carried full term, does not have to have to develop criminal behaviors just because the father was criminally deviant. Is criminal behavior inherited? In my opinion, no; on so many occasions I know and have met individuals whose parents were drug addicts, abusive, or nonexistent in the child’s life. These individuals are determined not to let that trait continue into the next generation; I, myself, am not determined to be an alcoholic even though it is hereditary, and I have been predisposed to it by my father and his father.

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GradesFixer. "Brain Dysfunction in Criminal Behavior." GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/brain-dysfunction-in-criminal-behavior/
GradesFixer, 2019. Brain Dysfunction in Criminal Behavior. [online] Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/brain-dysfunction-in-criminal-behavior/> [Accessed 15 July 2020].
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